Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Between Japan and China

The visit to Japan by Australia's Labor Party prime minister, Julia Gillard, reminds us that Australian foreign policy has never been known for its consistency.

She will, of course, go out of her way to talk about Japan-Australia friendship. But for many years Canberra was strongly anti-Japan. At the Tokyo war crimes tribunals it sought to impose the harshest punishments possible. Its 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty determination to force Japan to give up all prewar territorial acquisitions did much to create the Northern Territories dispute with Moscow and the Takeshima dispute with Seoul.

In exchange for agreeing to a peace treaty it demanded and got the U.S. to agree to a treaty - the ANZUS Treaty - to counter feared future Japanese aggressions - a detail many prefer to forget nowadays.

Even as Australia's trade dependence on Japan grew in the 1960s and 1970s, conservative governments in Canberra refused Tokyo's requests for a friendship and commerce agreement. Anti-Japan bureaucrats also blocked the 1975 efforts by the more progressive Whitlam government for a similar agreement. They said it was a plot that would allow Japan to dominate the Australian economy ( I know because I was there, even if Canberra has since air-brushed this disgraceful affair from the history of the agreement finally reached in 1976.)

Meanwhile a love affair with Beijing was developing under Whitlam, thanks to the 1971 ping-pong diplomacy breaking the ice imposed by the previous conservative regime. Diplomatic recognition of Taiwan was ended. Active political, cultural, academic and trade relations with China were pursued.

A foreign minister, Alexander Downer, even went so far as to suggest that Australia would not be obliged by the ANZUS Treaty to join the United States in any conflict with Beijing over Taiwan.

But now all this has come into shuddering reversal. Japan is the flavor of the month, and China is being moved into the potential enemies list. This, despite China's enormous trade importance, and the refusal of Japan's farm lobby to accept a free-trade agreement with Australia.

Canberra has recently negotiated a military assistance pact with Tokyo. It is looking for other military cooperation areas, including basing U.S. troops in northern Australian, which fits in neatly with Japanese conservative hopes for a Japan - Australia - India alliance against China.

Relations with the U.S. dominate Canberra's policies; Australians still feel very dependent on the large Pacific neighbor that once rescued them from Japanese aggression. The dominating Murdoch press works hard to prevent any deviation from a pro-U.S. line. Even the leftwing apparatchiks in the allegedly leftwing Labor Party are cooperative, as we now discover from cables released by WikiLeaks showing how they consulted with U.S. officials in staging the coup which saw Gillard replace the former somewhat pro-China and independent minded Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Gillard has since gone out of her way to show solidarity with the U.S., promising to keep Australian troops in Afghanistan to the very end. One is reminded of an earlier prime minister, Harold Holt, with his embarrassing 1966 slogan 'All the way with LBJ' to show Canberra's determination to stay with the U.S. in Vietnam till the very end.

Vietnam showed the other face of Australian diplomacy - a deep but immature fear of Asian threats. Many think Canberra's strong military presence in that war was the result of U.S. urging. In fact it was if anything the opposite, with a concerned Canberra leaning on Washington to make sure it remained militarily involved in Asia till the very end. Canberra had convinced itself that the Vietnam war was, in its own words, the first stage of a Chinese military thrust southward between the Pacific and Indian oceans and towards Australia. Only the U.S. could stop that thrust, it believed.

(In 1964, when stationed in Moscow, I saw first hand some of the immaturity and ignorance behind these anti-China attitudes. Arguing that the Chinese were "bad" communists and the Soviets were "good" communists the then foreign minister, Paul Hasluck, came all the way from Canberra to persuade Moscow to join the West in opposing the alleged Chinese "thrust" in Vietnam. Recovering from the shock of this bizarre request, then Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin leaned across the Kremlin green baize conference table to tell Hasluck how committed Moscow was to the cause of Vietnamese liberation and how he wished the Chinese would do more to help.)

Despite eventual defeat in Vietnam, Canberra's diplomacy in Asia has remained obsessed with alleged threats and militarily commitments. In 1975 it gave Indonesia the green light to invade East Timor fearing that a communist threat might develop there. It went all the way with the U.S. in distant Iraq. It talks much about involvement with Asia but left it to distant Europeans with a conscience - the Finns, the Dutch and the Norwegians plus Japan's former senior U.N. official, Yasushi Akashi, to try to broker settlements in difficult conflicts like Sri Lanka, Aceh, West Irian, Kashmir and Cambodia. It has preferred often simply to go along with arbitrary U.S. terrorist designations which have worsened the brutality of these conflicts, as we saw only too well in Sri Lanka.

It talks earnestly about educating young Australians into Asia. But the Australia-Japan Foundation, which some of us did so much to establish in the seventies as a vehicle to get young Australians into Japan for work and study, has been allowed to lapse. Only once has Canberra ever had a Japanese speaker as its ambassador to Japan.

But I doubt if any of this will worry Julia Gillard greatly. She has already admitted her lack of interest in foreign affairs. Cherry blossoms, tsunami victims and maybe yet more talk about closer military cooperation with Japan and the U.S. will be her main concerns.




 多くの人が今では敢えて忘れようとしているポイントだが、オーストラリアは平和条約に同意する代償として、将来の日本からの攻撃に備えて、一つの条約をアメリカに要求し手に入れた― ANZUS(オーストラリア、ニュージーランド、アメリカ)条約である。






 キャンベラの政策を支配するのはアメリカとの関係だ; オーストラリアは昔自分たちを日本の攻撃から救ってくれた太平洋の隣人大国に今でも大きく頼っている。強い支配力を持つマードック・プレスは親米ラインからはずれないように、非常に気を使っている。いわゆる左翼を自任する労働党の中の左翼的な影武者でさえ協力的であることは、いまウィキリークスが暴露した電報によると、いく分親中国的で独立的なケビン・ラッド前首相を下ろし、ギラードに据え変えたクーデターを実行するに先立ち米政府高官らに相談していることでもわかる。


 ベトナムはオーストラリア外交のもう一つの顔を示している― アジアの脅威という根深く、未熟な恐怖心だ。あの戦争にキャンベラが強い存在感を見せたのはアメリカの要請に応えてのことだ、と多くの人は思っている。実際は、どちらかというと、その逆だ。憂慮を深めたキャンベラが、ワシントンを後押しして、アメリカが最後までアジアに軍事的駐留を続けるように図ったのだ。キャンベラはベトナム戦争が、彼ら自身のことばで言えば、太平洋とインド洋の間の南方へそしてオーストラリアへ向かう中国の軍事的進攻の第一歩だ、と信じ込んでいた。それを止めることができるのはアメリカだけと信じていた。

 1964年もモスクワ駐在中に私は、この反中国姿勢の背後にある未熟さと無知さ加減の一部を、身をもって体験した。中国は“悪い”共産主義、ソ連は“よい”共産主義という論理、当時の外務大臣ポール・ハスラックははるばるキャンベラからモスクワへやって来て、ベトナムにおける中国のいわゆる“進撃”に反対する西側に加わらないかと、モスクワを説得しようとしたのである。時の首相アレクセイ・コスイギンは、この奇妙な要求のショックから立ち直ると、緑のベーズを張ったクレムリンの会議卓から身を乗り出して、ハスラックに言った; 自分たちはベトナム解放の大義に深くコミットしており、中国にはもっと積極的に支援して欲しいと思っている、と。


 1975年にはインドネシアの東チモール侵攻にゴーサインを出したのも、東チモールに共産党の脅威が拡大することを恐れてのことだった。またオーストラリアは遠路はるばるイラクまで行きアメリカと行動をともにした。オーストラリアはアジアとのつながりをよく口にするが、スリランカ、アチュ、西イリアン、カシミール、カンボジアなどアジアでの難しい紛争解決の仲介役の仕事は、良識ある遠方のヨーロッパ人― フィンランド人、オランダ人、ノルウェー人、それに日本人で元国連幹部職員明石康など― に任せていた。オーストラリアはしばしば単純にアメリカの恣意的なテロリスト判定に同調することによって、スリランカの例があまりにも明確に示すように、これらの紛争をますます暴力的なものにした。